Almost five hours into an ordeal that brought four Chicago Fire Department vehicles and a team of 16 professionals to her Northwest Side apartment earlier this month, Maria Aguila faced a wrenching decision.
But the soft, slightly bulging, hazel eyes staring back at her from inside the bathtub made the choice clear.
“I said, ‘Do whatever you have to do but save the dog,'” Aguila said this week, recalling the May 6 rescue.
And so, firefighters set to work tearing open the ceiling below, so they could cut through a pipe under the tub where little Moky, a 5-year-old Chihuahua, had somehow lodged a tiny paw in the drain while its owner was giving it a bath.
Some seven hours after it all began, firefighters reached the drain and shook Moky’s swollen paw free.
“He was definitely happier after we got him out,” said Chicago Fire Capt. Mark Altman, who oversaw the rescue. “The family was very grateful.”
And so are the folks at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, who this week said they’re sending along a “Compassionate Fire Department Award.” It includes, PETA said, “a box of delicious vegan cookies.”
Baths are a routine part of Moky’s life, but on that day things went horribly wrong. Aguila had forgotten to put a plug in the tub. The Chihuahua’s leg slipped into the open drain and wouldn’t come out.
“I tried to pull him out, but it was too late,” Aguila said.
She called 311. But four hours later, no one had turned up, she said. So she called PETA, which alerted the fire department to Moky’s plight.
Noticing the abundance of fire equipment, curious neighbors wondered if someone was dying. Not if the fire department had anything to say about it.
Why four pieces of equipment for one tiny dog? You never quite know what tools might be needed in such a rescue, Altman said.
Firefighters decided the only way to safely get the dog out would be to break through the ceiling in the room below in the family’s duplex. When they finally freed Moky, he leaped into his owner’s arms.
Some two weeks later, Moky is physically fine. The emotional trauma lingers.
“He runs from the bathroom,” Aguila said.